From the coastal part of Kenya, Biabu Shaffi is among many things a passionate baker and a cooking enthusiast, always looking to try new recipes. For the past 3 years, she has been baking cakes, cookies, and other pastries to earn an extra shilling which she has used to fund her degree in Business Management.
After being approached by several family members and friends looking to find suitable housekeepers, Biabu realized that there was a gap in the market and she decided to fill that gap by launching Pristine Housekeeping Agency. Through Pristine, Biabu hopes to establish a one-stop shop that Kenyans can look to for all their household needs: cleaning, babysitting, shopping…you name it, Pristine will offer it.
What’s her mantra? Biabu believes that if you have a passion, you should pursue it.
What was the inspiration behind the birth of Pristine Housekeeping Agency?
The idea of running a housekeeping agency came from a comedy series entitled “Devious Maids” lol. There is this character called Marisol Suarez, who started an agency for maids. People go to her to look for maids. Initially, I thought I could do the same but after some consideration, I decided not to –I didn’t see the need then.
But then one day, it happened that my cousin, my sister, and aunt were looking for house-helps and they just couldn’t find one that would fit their need(s). And there I was, again, thinking, if I start a housekeeping agency, train the ladies/gents on the basics, like how to clean the house, do laundry, cooking etc. I would really be making money.
Then I remembered that people here travel to other countries, especially the Middle East, to clean houses for money and some end up getting hurt, others even get killed. So, Pristine will also be creating/providing employment to the unskilled, jobless youths and women and in the long run, grow a skilled community, end crime and poverty.
What was the need you saw lacking in the Kenyan housekeeping industry that made you want to pursue this idea? In your view, what is it about Pristine that sets it apart from other similar ventures?
First the Kenyan housekeeping industry only concentrates on commercial buildings –like offices, malls and supermarkets, hospitals, and hotels. Not one person has thought of venturing into house cleaning services, NONE!
Pristine will do the household chores for you. From cleaning, cooking, shopping to babysitting. Lots of people look for professional house-helps –one that can do the house chores without needing someone breathing down their neck. I haven’t seen any agency like Pristine except when seeking employment in the Middle East. Pristine’s vision is to be the best housekeeping agency in Africa by 2030.
How far have you gotten with the development of your idea into a fully functioning agency? What would you say have been some of the biggest challenges that you have faced along the way?
Winding up on the proposal, working on the logo and registration. I am done with the name search so I am waiting for the response. So far, the challenge I have faced is time. I must juggle in between my full-time employment, cake orders, school, volunteering and researching on Pristine.
It has been and is still is a very big challenge. Finances too have been a challenge as I use my savings to get things done, so hopefully, I will get some funding or someone with a good deal to invest in my business.
When it comes to opening a business, where/who would you say you have received the most support from? How have you been able to capitalize on that?
I have a colleague, who is also my mentor, who said that gone are the days when people started businesses just to make a profit and become wealthy.
These days it is more about “what problem are you solving?” or “what are you doing for the society?”. I saw a need in my community, the need for good and professional help, and I believe that we, at Pristine, are going to satisfy that need.Challenges are opportunities in disguise @BiabuShaffi Click To Tweet
Starting a business can be a daunting process for many young women. As someone who is currently going through the process, what would be your advice to other young women in your shoes looking to embark on a similar adventure and become business owners?
Yes, it is a daunting process. Especially if you have a full-time job and other things running. What I can just tell other women out there is; Never give up! Challenges are there to make us stronger. In fact, challenges are opportunities in disguise –grab them and face them head on.
You know why you started, and what you are looking at achieving in the short and long run. And always remember that the difference in winning and losing is most often, not quitting! So, don’t.
With regards to Pristine Housekeeping, what would you say are your top three goals for 2017 and how are you planning to accomplish them?
- Get registered as a limited liability company by March – I have started on the registration process and I am at least half way.
- Recruitment and placement of at least 20 youth and women – I will be training them at my home before I secure a perfect place for this –I am also working on the plan.
- Funding/Donors/Investors – This is in order to be financially stable and/or get an investor.
You are also in the process of completing your degree, how are you managing to handle it all, finishing school, starting a business and presumably trying to have a social life and pursue your other passions.
I am a very good multitasker and all this is because I am self-motivated.
In other words, my passion drives me to work harder and move, despite loving my nap times, lol. I won’t say that it hasn’t been hard because it has. I am currently enrolling for virtual classes which will be more convenient for me.If you have a passion, pursue it @BiabuShaffi Click To Tweet
What are your top 3 words for 2017?
Believe, Focus, Achieve.
Any last thoughts that you would like to leave our readers with?
Always start with the end result in mind. Always! This will be your driving force.
The journey is always much easier and clearer when you know where you are heading, why you are headed that way and what you are hoping to get at the end of that journey. If you have a passion, pursue it. If you have identified a problem in your community, look for a solution and turn it into a business. And lastly, keep your hope alive and never lose your faith.
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